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T. E. Lawrence to D. G. Hogarth


[Karachi]

7.VII.27

Rex Ingram wrote me from Nice. He is all right: has his complete copy. Pike sent him an incomplete as well, which was overdoing it! But he decently returned the surplus. 

I'm writing to Eliot about the idea of stopping the English sale of the Revolt. He will probably show you, or send you, my letter. The alternative to stopping it is a cheap edition: whereas my comfort lies partly in its high price. With The Seven Pillars at £400 my complete story is quite safe: nobody will ever see it. Most of the owners I hear from are insuring it, or sending it to their bank or strong rooms. In fact it is going to vanish from the face of England, and the rare copies that do come into the market will go to the States, where my fancy price of 20000 dollars for the Doran edition artificially keeps up the price of possessing a copy. All the same £400 is too high. I'd be glad to see it drop to £150 or so.

There are no Doughty letters at Clouds Hill. I cleared all private papers out of the house there on my last visit. It is now let, for 12/- a week, to two tenants who take a floor of it each, for week-ending. You never saw Clouds Hill, I think? A tiny brick cottage, with old tiled roof, very high pitched. It stands in a thicket of laurel and rhododendron, with oak trees and a huge ilex stretching arms over its roof. Damp? Yes; for the cottage dates from pre-damp-course days, and the trees drip great rain-drops on the roof for hours after each storm. They patter across the tiles like the first notes of the Vth Symphony. Only two rooms, the upstairs, of the cottage, are habitable. They have three-foot walls, and nine-foot roofs, all open. A great deal of oak and chestnut on show: but my repairs to the roof had to be in deal, which we creosoted to bring it to an ancient colour. My gold Meccan dagger paid the repair-bill, and left something over for furniture. I wish I were within reach of that cottage now. This place is dismal: no bright sun, and no heat: only a cloud or sand-dimmed paleness of sunlight, and constant salty breezes from the seven-miles distant sea. An Eastbourne, in fact.

I think that war period must have tuned me to fit real heat: for here I am always shivering and catching colds. Of course it may be partly the change from Cranwell, where I worked hard, in the hanger and on my Seven Pillars, and rode hard on Boanerges in any spare daylight. Here we have only 5 hours work a day, on 5 days a week: and my spare time exhausts itself in wandering slowly about camp or aerodrome. I haven't been outside the camp yet, and probably won't, for I got a letter from Trenchard lately which gives me hope that I'll be able to come home when Revolt has died away, say in the spring of 1930. Robert Graves' book will put people off the legend of me, and if there is not a cheap reprint in 1929 Revolt will be old history by then. It might even be possible to get back in '29. The sooner the better from my point of view. I've turned suddenly, as I always thought I would, the corner into middle age: hair going white, the fellows tell me: and my eyesight and hearing both giving me trouble with their insufficiency. The less time I have to expect, the more I want to spend it in England.

Did you ever hear what happened to the R.A.F. War-history, which Jones was to have finished? I do not think it has appeared, and it must be long overdue.

Why not lend Sir H. Samuel a copy, if you have an incomplete left? I think that would show him the unfitness of the book to be his possession. But if he still wanted it, after that, let him keep it. Only I judge him as too upright a man to take pleasure in obliquity.

The American copy which still survives should be sent to C.E.O. Wood Esq., H.M. Naval Base, Singapore. Wood is the engineer who rode with me to the Tell el Shehab bridge one night, and he has asked for a copy. Will you send him a letter with it, from yourself, saying that 'you understand from me that he wishes for such time as he requires it.' [23 words omitted] There is a shortage of the beastly things. After I come home I'll draw from Doran four or five of the sale copies in his safe, and use those to stop the mouths of entitled [but] disappointed claimants. So we will keep a list, still, despite there being no more incompletes left. The completes we'll hold. One is to be a Brough.

T.E.S.

Source: DG 527-529
Checked: dn/
Last revised: 9 February 2006


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